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Sinclair ZX80
Yep, the machine that revolutionised the home computer market. Uncle Clive had been determined to break that 'magic' ukp100 barrier with a home computer, and while corners were cut (eg the 'can't think and display at the same time') and the case was pretty bloody awful really it brought computing to the masses for the first time.
It was first reviewed in the July 1980 issue of Practical Electronics, which also featured an advert for the new Acorn Atom, which featured a full travel keyboard, up to 12K of RAM and the possibility of RGB output; however at ukp120 as a kit or ukp150 built it was ukp40-ukp50 more than the ZX80, and in those days affordability was the name of the game.
The reviewer, Mike Abbott, concluded "I see the ZX80 in the classroom, and in workshop control applications. Perhaps even hidden in the executive's top draw (sic), to be pulled out at lunch times to resume training. For these situations the machine is excellent and eminently suited to teaching children the art of computer programming. It is of little use scientifically at present, with only integer capability and no mathematical functions, and this to some extent wastes the boasted processing speed of the machine"
Of course, an enhanced ROM was soon on the way with floating point, scientific and trigonometry functions, and guess which ROM was used in the ZX81? There was even a ZX81 keyboard membrane available that simply stuck over the existing keyboard.
(I've been told by people around at the time that the ZX80 was only released because of similar ULA problems that were plaguing Acorn and Newbury Labs, amongst others)
This one works nicely, which is becoming strange for machines with 2114 RAM chips! Not pictured is the BASIC manual and a '20 games for your ZX80' book.

All images and text © Adrian Graham 1999-2024 unless otherwise noted using words. Also on